Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Letter of the Day | Emancipation Park statue hijacked

Published:Saturday | December 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Norman Grindley/Chief Photo Editor The newly painted Redemption Song statue at Emancipation Park, New Kingston.


In a stunning act of foresight, the owners of the Redemption Song statue at Emancipation Park, New Kingston, decided against laying a plaque to identify the sculpture's creator, Laura Facey; for some 15 years later, they would have to change that very plaque to identify the person who has just hijacked the work.

That new creator is whoever painted over the male and female forms with black enamel or oil paint. The figures now shine brightly, yes. And if I had seen sweat dripping from their bodies when I passed on Thursday afternoon, perhaps I wouldn't have worried for their health, but there was none, and I am worried.

For every pore in every inch of their sizable figures has been sealed by paint and any wish that Ms Facey might have had for the couple to weather gently into an aged patina has been denied.

We are left with a completely new work. Still powerful, yes. But worrisome too. There are conservation issues: Can they breathe? Will the chemical undermine the fabrication of the work? How long before the paint begins to crack and peel and fall into disrepair?

Perhaps the owners of Redemption Song are satisfied with this new aesthetic, but what they are clearly not aware of, however, is that this transformation may, in fact, represent copyright infringement, for essentially what the painter has done is to appropriate Ms Facey's work as raw material for their own artistry.

Great physical care must be taken with our art assets, and the creative rights of our artists must be safeguarded. It is unfortunate that neither may have been considered during this paint job.